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Henry M. Cannon Memorial Chapel

Standing on a slight rise overlooking the east end of Westhampton Lake, Cannon Memorial Chapel serves as a central place of reflection, worship, and peace.

The chapel is in use for many facets of University of Richmond life: religious services for students and members of the community; cultural events such as concerts and recitals; academic assemblies; and various honors convocations. The chapel is a favorite place for weddings, particularly of students who met at the University.

Henry Mansfield Cannon was a local tobacconist who died in 1907. In 1927, his widow Lottie Southerland Cannon wrote to University President Frederic W. Boatwright, "He left me this fortune, which had been made in Richmond, and I wished to use some of it to honor his memory. I finally decided for myself that the University of Richmond would be here as long as the city itself, and that I should place my memorial in the University campus, if you would accept it and care for it." Her gift was indeed accepted and cared for, and her wishes were fulfilled.

On January 3, 2013, the Commonwealth of Virginia's Board of Historic Resources placed Cannon Memorial Chapel in the Virginia Landmarks Register.  The State Review Board also recommended this property for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Virginia Landmarks Register includes historic landmarks, buildings, structures, districts, objects, and sites which are recognized as having historical, architectural, or archaeological significance at a local, state, or national level. 


On Oct. 23, 1929 The Henry M. Cannon Memorial Chapel was dedicated. Judge William A. Moncure presented the building on behalf of Mrs. Cannon, who was ill at the time. Dr. Clarence Barbour, president of Brown University, gave the dedicatory address.


A Hammon organ was installed in 1936. In 1961 the present pipe organ was constructed. The German organ builder, Rudolph von Beckerath, prepared the drawings, and the University's music director, Dr. John White, and the University organist, Professor Suzanne Kidd (later, Bunting) guided negotiations. Three German workmen from Hamburg installed the instrument in nine weeks. The organ has 1,200 pipes (40 ranks) of tin, lead and wood, the largest measuring 16 feet, the shortest being smaller and thinner than a soda straw. Robert Noehren played the dedicatory organ concert on Feb. 9, 1962.

Within a short time the von Beckerath organ became known to organists in Europe and America as one of the finest installations in the country. The organ is included in "A Collection of Noted Organs and Organists of the World," by H.J. Winterton.


With passing years the chapel needed renovating. In March 1976, the Board of Trustees approved the employment of Russell Bailey, an architect, to prepare preliminary sketches and renovation soon began.  The felt covering the masonry upper walls was removed and the interior of the building became "acoustically alive." Tiled aisles were carpeted. The chancel was reshaped. The choir loft was restructured to a capacity of 80, and rich wood paneling was extended around the organ case containing the pipes.  The chapel was full for the rededication service on Sunday, Nov. 7, 1976, during Homecoming Weekend. Dr. David D. Burhans, University chaplain, presided, and Dr. Elmer S. West Jr., delivered the address.

In 2013 the Chapel was again renovated to correct moisture damage and the building also received a new roof, new heating and air conditioning systems including heated floors, and the entire interior was painted.  The aisles received new tile and the floors under the pews were covered with hardwood.  The bride and groom's rooms each also received new paint, carpet, and upholstered furniture.